Sunday, July 20, 2014
I’m going to reveal a secret about half the people on Planet Earth: men constantly measure their “manliness”, and compare themselves to other men. It’s crazy. Last weekend I went on a training mission with members of a famous, elite military unit, and members of a famous, elite law enforcement unit. The men from both groups were in awe of each other. The civilians were looking at the military guys and muttering, “They’re those famous guys they make movies about.” The military guys were looking at the civilians and muttering, “They’re those famous cops that Hollywood makes TV shows about.” To make matters worse, there were guys impressed with me, the fat, middle-aged balding guy with crooked teeth, because I was the radiation physics guy; so they decided that I’m some kind of nuclear genius who can do math (Compared to all of them? Yes. Compared to the people that I look up to[Yes, Dave Wesley, I’m referring to you], I’m an idiot). A poser. A fraud. Great. When we got home at 03:00 a.m., I know that the cops went back to their regular routine, where they’re jealous of the firemen (because women looooovvve firemen, and think they’re sexy), while the firemen are jealous of the cops. I could write a 2 page list of who thinks “those other guys” are more manly than they are (the ER docs are jealous of the firemen, who are jealous of the doctors, etc. etc. etc.). On the one hand, it’s a complete waste of time. On the other, it’s why the pyramids of Giza, the Eiffel Tower, and Hoover Dam were built. It’s why we have been to the moon, and the bottom of the ocean. This weekend, I rode a horse for the first time in my life. How was it? It was okay. Now I can say, “Been there, done that.” Actually, I took to it fairly quickly. Within 5 minutes I realized that as long as I had the right attitude, the horse would do what I said. The others in my party went wandering all over the fields, while their horses ignored their pleas, and did whatever they wanted. I think my horse realized that I’m Hungarian (my ancestors invaded Europe on horseback a thousand years ago), and got with the program. To my surprise, I was very confident while on this horse in a short amount of time. The reason that I was surprised is that that are things that I won’t do, because they scare the crap out of me. The long and the short of it is that I don’t like heights. I can’t ride a bicycle or motorcycle unless it is low-slung, and my feet can land flat on the ground. I realize that putting your foot flat onto the ground while you are going 20 or 60 miles an hour is dangerous, but I need that feeling. Want me to take an x-ray of somebody whose abdomen has been cut wide open by the surgeon? No problem. Want me to start an I.V. on a guy with HIV? No problem. Like a bunch of you guys reading this, I’ve had that weekend where I have gotten home from work, looked down, and wondered whose blood that was on my pants or tennis shoes. But don’t ask me to climb a ladder, or ride a zip line. Hell no, I won’t go. The rational part of me knows that zip line is 100% safe, and that I will fly from here, across the canyon, and land safely, over there without a scratch. I don’t care. It’s scary. Here’s the thing: the fact that I won’t bungee jump, go skydiving, or climb up a ladder makes me feel like I’m not a real man. I am a wimp. A chicken. A wus. I am not a real man. But then again, a bunch of the cops on the boat Sunday night got seasick, while the military guys and I stared at them in wonder. The water was pretty smooth, as far as we were concerned. So, if you’re a birder who goes out looking for shearwaters, take a minute to pat yourself on the shoulder: you’re tougher than those famous cops they make TV shows about.